This year, we are highlighting all of the great work that our graduate assistants  perform around our campus by featuring the nominees for the 2021 Graduate Assistant of the Year Award.  This award is coordinated by the Career Center, which works with the Graduate School to pick the winner of the award.  We were so impressed by all of the nominees that we are going to feature them on our blog.  Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Sarah Ciosek, nominee for Ball State’s 2021 Graduate Assistant of the Year Award

For the 2020-21 academic year, Sarah worked as a GA to support the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in administrating and managing multiple research integrity and compliance programs. She mentored fellow students during their navigation of the research compliance process, helped review and develop ORIs’ policies, assisted with the creation of new manuals and educational materials, assisted with maintaining the ORI website, and worked with others to provide accurate and ethical reviews of research protocols.

Sarah was nominated by Dr. Susan McDowell, Christopher Mangelli, Jim Klenner, Sena Lim, and Sandra Currie.  They had this to say about Sarah, “One of Ms. Ciosek’ s primary roles at the ORI is to help support human subjects research (HSR) and the efforts of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). In her two years, Sarah has learned a great deal about the internal operations of the IRB, how to review research protocols, how to read and apply regulations, and how to navigate the challenging waters of ethical conduct as applied to a variety of situations. Sarah has not only learned a lot of difficult material very quickly, but is able to distill this information into easy to understand language for both faculty and student researchers. When communicating with individual researchers, Sarah is able to take this knowledge, combine it with what regulations require, plus any additional requests from the IRB, and translate this into easy to follow and understand action steps. Sarah’s conversation style lends itself towards the conveyance of information accurately, easily, and in a manner that is collaborative. Sarah communicates effectively and in a concise manner. On many occasions, Sarah has taken information/guidance from us, in some cases provided in a very ‘legalese’ or highly technical manner, and translated this into plain English for the person being helped. This rare ability is beyond what one would normally see from a student learning these regulatory fields, or a professional new in their career.”

Sarah Ciosek

Here is a Q & A with Sarah

1) What was the most valuable part of your assistantship experience? 

The most valuable part of my assistantship experience are the relationships I have been privileged to form. The camaraderie within the ORI has been one of the highlights of my time at Ball State. My experience in the ORI has shown me that you can do important, serious work while sharing laughs along the way. I am also consistently inspired by the many IRB faculty members I have met while working in the ORI. They inspire me to remain curious, to show up as my best self-every day, and to always speak up for what I believe is right.

2) How do you think your GA assignment has helped you to grow as a professional and a student?

With ethical conduct being the backbone of the ORI, I have learned the importance of collaboration and transparency. I think that as a graduate student and a young professional, the desire to impress is understandably strong. However, seeing the ways in which my colleagues consult with one another and celebrate each other’s strengths has made me a better team player. Additionally, my position in the ORI has successfully challenged me to expect the unexpected and be ready when it comes. “Adapt and overcome” (credit to our Director, Chris Mangelli) has become an important motto in many areas of my academic and professional life.

3) Is there anything else you would like to communicate about your experience as a GA?

To my fellow ORI members, you have no idea how much your support has meant to me over the last two years. I will forever hold my experience in our office as a transformative one. The grace and heart with which the ORI approaches all situations has been impressive to witness. I am a better person for having known you all. And to whoever joins this office in the future, get ready for some great laughs, many, MANY acronyms, and more sci-fi movie references than you could ever want to hear.